Participating in an internship program provides students relevant, "real world" work experience. Internships expose students to growth opportunities and different facets of their chosen industry. In addition, students are given a chance to see if they “fit in” with the company culture.
When placing an intern, the area of work should be tied to the student's senior project. Not only does this give students a chance to interact with seasoned executives in the company, but it also provides them with something to show for their work engagement.
Their Success is Your Success
Companies benefit from interns too. Internships bring rich new talent into the workplace. These young minds can introduce new ideas and creativity, as well as be candidates for future employees. Interns typically work a continuous 6-8 weeks paying back the companies investment in them via their productivity and ideas. Also, taking in interns brings a good public image: the company helping students find their place in the corporate world.
The benefits to students are not just an opportunity for future employment, but also a pathway to competitive pay. Companies that are flexible with start and stop dates for the internship can get a much more diverse pool of student to select for internships. Companies are encouraged to have students work on challenging projects throughout their internship—not just getting coffee for the office.
Corporate Success Stories
“The candidates were very strong and excellent ambassadors for SMU. It made for a good prospect early in the year to meet and interview prospective students. The interns worked on projects that actually achieved something. Their contributions were valuable and brought unique perspectives to problem solving.”
“We all know SMU has an excellent talent pool of Operations Research students. It is the students that seemed surprised to find so many industries where they could apply their engineering skills and address business challenges.”
Student Assessments of the Program
“I am greatly enjoying my summer internship. The employees provide a first-hand experience to the corporate world, and I have learned so much.”
“My direct supervisor was very interactive throughout my internship. He constantly made sure I was satisfied with the work I was doing and was always explaining the relativity of my assigned projects to my major.”
“Most of the time my daily work is self-explanatory, but there were a few times in which I was left empty-handed. The response was slower than I expected.”
“I have accepted an offer for part-time employment during the school year, and upon graduation, look forward to possibly becoming a full-time salaried employee.”
“The EMIS summer internship program has been very beneficial in jump-starting my career. The connections are greatly appreciated.”
Getting the Most from Your Intern
Companies need to plan in advance for the arrival of the intern and have a clearly defined work assignment. The supervisor or sponsor must commit to regular weekly—or bi-weekly—meetings to review progress with the intern and have a project for the intern that will expand what that intern has already learned about creating an end-product. Then the student should present the end-product to the company sponsor at the end of the internship. A best practice is to have the intern meet with upper management and business sponsors at the conclusion of the program. Lastly the student and the company should sign off on mutually exclusive rules for the internship experience to set expectations and prevent student or company disappointment.
Design Criteria for Internships
- Summer Opportunity: Alternately Fall or Spring; depends on company and candidate.
- Eligibility Standards: Limited to juniors and seniors; maintain separate programs for graduates and PhD students; international students must meet criteria established by the University, INS, and the company.
- Selection Process: Professors recommend candidates.
- Salary: Each company makes salary determinations with the HR department.
- Matching: Professors and companies consult together in the matching process.
- Feedback: 3rd party collects feedback from students, professors, and companies to help improve the program. Best practices are shared with participating companies.
- Metrics: Derived from number of students that are employed as result of internships; program growth over time.
- Mentoring: Optional opportunities for professors and EMIS DAC members to help mentor student(s) through the program.